Four tips for boosting people skills

People skills and interpersonal skills often play a big role in public-facing hospitality jobs, from hotel receptionist to waiter or waitress.

You might feel like you're already good at talking to strangers, but it's always wise to try and improve your skills as you look to start or progress in a career.

Training will often be provided while you work, which can be useful, but here are four simple points that you might want to think about next time you're considering brushing-up on people skills!

Engage your empathy

Being able to empathise is a great skill when it comes to public facing roles. And your work could well be all the more excellent if you try to really employ this skill with the people you're helping, not just fake it!

Whenever you come across a customer, think about what their situation is, and how they're feeling.

That moody and untalkative customer at the reception desk might have had a lengthy trip in lots of traffic, for example – there's almost always a reason for the way people behave. So if they act negatively towards you, try to ask yourself why, rather than reacting defensively (always a no-no in a hospitality job).

This way, even if you may never know exactly why someone is angry, say, you'll be reminding yourself that there's a story and a human being behind the emotion.

Watch other people in your role

One good thing about public-facing jobs is that there's often a chance to step into the shoes of the customer and experience the relationship you have with the people you help from the opposite perspective.

If you're a waiter, for example, be sure to take note of how you're treated when you eat out. It could be that the person serving you has certain habits that either annoy you or please you in ways you'd never twig during the course of your work.

This doesn't just relate to interpersonal skills. It could be something as simple as the way they lay down plates, as well as things like how they chat to people when they settle the bill.

If you're inspired by their work, why not do some similar things yourself?

Take a small talk work-out

Small talk can be a great way to keep things between you and a customer rosy, but it doesn't just have to be practiced at work! Why not wheel it out elsewhere in your life if you don't already? This could especially useful if you feel like you lack confidence in talking to strangers. From a train conductor to a bus driver, you may be able to practice exchanging a few words with many of the professionals you meet during the course of your life.

Smile

We all know it – but we might not always use it! A smile can be gold dust when dealing with customers. If you enjoy your job this small gesture should come easily, which is why it's important to do a job you're well suited to!

Think of the smile as a metaphor for a cheerful demeanor – you don't need to have a constant grin on your face, but you do need to project a sense that you're happy to be doing what you're doing. Hopefully, it will rub off on the person you're serving and your relationship will be boosted as a result.